Tips and Tricks

Breaking out of a rut

We have been in a definite food rut this winter. Well, if I’m being honest…since the baby was born.

georgia with bow
The more creative we get with her cuisine, the less energy we have left over to feed ourselves!

Why? Well, when you’re 10 months pregnant, the last thing you want to do is think about shopping and cooking. Because you’re tired, everything gives you heartburn, and by the time it’s ready to eat, you can only manage a few bites of food before baby blocks off the rest of your stomach and you’re full. Then, when baby comes home, all your friends and family will drop off casseroles, breads, chili, frozen meatballs, you name it. You’re set for weeks! But then, when the meal drop-offs taper, you realize you still can’t cook, because you have a newborn that needs to nurse every 90 minutes and getting in and out of a store is a major theatrical production. So one of you heads out for takeout, or you call for delivery…again.

she's cute, but she's a budget-buster!
she’s cute, but she’s a budget-buster!

Cut to us, 6 months later, 10 pounds heavier (including Georgia!) and we are in desperate need of a reboot to eat healthfully and on budget. We have daycare expenses looming!

So recently I found this great article about breaking out of a food rut. It’s tailored to vegetarians, but I think the tips are cross-cutting. A few ideas:

  • Break open a new cookbook. One I’m liking these days is Chloe’s Kitchen, because you’d never know her stuff is vegan. And rarely do the recipes require more than a few, non-exotic ingredients. (Other trusty favorites? The Silver Spoon and the Moosewood Cookbook, plus Food Network Magazine and Weight Watchers online).
  • Have breakfast for dinner. We have started doing this at least once a week, because it is endlessly customizable: keep vegetarian and regular sausage/bacon in the freezer, plus waffle and pancake mix in the pantry, and a dozen organic eggs, and you’ve got lots to choose from. Keep a couple onions and bell peppers on hand with some shredded cheese, and you can do omelettes; put a bowl of fruit out, like clementines and apples (which both keep forever), and you can serve that alongside.
  • Watch a cooking show. Mark loves Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and I love Giada, the Barefoot Contessa, the Pioneer Woman and The Chew. It’s thanks to Giada that we make this dish, and to the Pioneer Woman for this salsa and this seafood pasta!
  • Start a blog. It sure worked for me!

My own best tip for getting out of a rut? PINTEREST. I swear that’s not a plug for my boards…I truly don’t know where I’d be without Martha Stewart Living, MoneySavingMom, Joanna Goddard and more. (And if you do want to follow me, check out my profile here!)

I’m also a big fan of food writing as inspiration. I can’t tell you how many clutch recipes I’ve grabbed from Amanda Hesser, Ruth Reichl and Tamar AdlerFor Georgia, I’ve really been loving this book lately:


  How about you? How do YOU get out of a rut? We are trying to cut back on eating out so many nights a week by planning better for our shopping trips, now that Georgia can cope with errands, and by keeping staple ingredients like rice, frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, beans, pasta, sweet potatoes and frozen fish/veggie burgers/beef patties on hand. Next step will be working more fresh salads and stir-fries into the mix, which I hope gets easier when we plant our garden. Here’s to spring coming soon!

4 thoughts on “Breaking out of a rut

  1. Mandy, the thing we started doing once we had Henry was weekly menu planning. That way, we always know we have ingredients for whole meals at hand, and we only had to really shop once (with the occasional quick trip for milk, etc) per week. It has been much better for budgeting, and now we know what we have and we use it – so less spoils and goes to waste. The less I have to think during that hectic time between when I get home at 5:30 and we eat just after 6pm, the better. Also, cooking ahead helps, too.


    1. I think cooking ahead is one thing that I could do more of, and would really help. Right now, it’s such a mad dash from when I get home to when Georgia goes to bed, and in between I have to give her solids, bathe her, nurse her, and do bedtime stories, so I don’t start dinner until after she’s down! It’s not working for anybody.


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